21 most addictive thrillers for winter 2021

February 06, 2021

 
There's no more comforting feeling for a book lover than curling up with a good thriller when it's dark and stormy outside. From new releases to old classics, below is a list of the 21 absolute must-read thrillers for your winter 2021 TBR.

 

The Push - Ashley Audrain

 


 

 

"Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

 

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

 

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

 

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth."

 

The Push came out on January 5th, and I had to pick it up immediately after seeing all of the hype. Believe me, I was not at all disappointed - this book is incredible. You can read my full review here, but you absolutely have to add this one to your list if you enjoy psychological dramas.

 

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver

 


"Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails"

 

I'm recommending this as an add-on to The Push - trust me, if you read that book, you're going to want more of the 'motherhood gone wrong' kind of thriller.

 

The Perfect Nanny - Leila Silmani

 


 

"When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau."

 

 

This time, a 'nanny gone wrong' rather than a 'motherhood gone wrong' story,  beginning with the murder of two children.  Terrifying, claustrophobic and engaging, The Perfect Nanny maintains its shroud of mystery despite beginning at the end.

 

The Turn of the Key - Ruth Ware

 


 

"When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

 

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder."

 

Another fantastic example of a 'nanny gone wrong' story, The Turn of the Key will have you torn between wanting to know more and being afraid of what lies on the next page. The remote Scottish setting is interwined with the plot to create an atmosphere dark enough to fill even the bravest reader with a sense of dread. Read my full review for this book here.

 

The Wife Upstairs - Rachel Hawkins

 


 

"Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

 

 

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

 

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?"

 

This new release from the author of the much loved Hex Hall and Rebel Belle series is not to be missed if you enjoy domestic thrillers.

 

In The Garden of Spite - Camilla Bruce

 


"They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams--their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she'd given up, what was taken from her, how she'd suffered, surely they'd understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That's all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive."

 

Released on January 19th, this new thriller sounds a little more unconventional than most - a good one for your list if you like to keep things interesting!

 

The Echo Wife - Sarah Gailey

 


 

 

"Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

 

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty."

 

 

This one also sounds very unique compared to other books in this genre and I'm intrigued - a sci-fi thriller? I've seen it likened to Westworld, Killing Eve, and Big Little Lies, which, if true - is going to be amazing.


The Guest List - Lucy Foley

 


"The bride The plus one The best man The wedding planner The bridesmaid The body

 

 

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

 

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

 

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?"


This bestselling classic set on a remote island is an absolute must-read for thriller lovers. It's next on my own reading list!

 

The Hunting Party - Lucy Foley

 


"For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

 

 

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

 

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

 

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

 

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

 

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

 

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

 

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?"


Lucy Foley has well and truly established herself as a modern day Agatha Christie.

 

Pretty Little Wife - Darby Kane

 


 

 

"Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

 

 

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone."

 

A recent release from a debut author.

 

The Wrong Family - Tarryn Fisher

 


 

 

"Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

 

 

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

 

Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

 

She shouldn’t get involved.

 

She really shouldn’t.

 

But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

 

Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too."

 

Last year, I read The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, and I really enjoyed it - so I am looking forward to reading this creepy book during the winter.

 

 

Every Last Secret - A.R. Torre

 


 

 

"Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.

 

 

Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.

 

As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous."

 

This book was recently published in December 2020 and sounds perfect for fans of 'what goes on behind closed doors' mysteries. 


Snap - Belinda Bauer

 


 

"On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she said. I won't be long. But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you. Meanwhile Jack is still in charge - of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother."

 

Snap made it onto the Manbooker Longlist in 2018, rare for a crime novel. A dual narrative thriller loosely based on the unsolved murder of Marie Wilks in 1988, this book will put you through multiple twists and turns before the big reveal.

 

 

 

 

The Woman in the Window - A.J. Flynn

 


 

 

 "Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare."

 

Looking for a fast-paced thriller with an unreliable narrator and a plot twist you won't see coming? Look no further than The Woman in the Window.

 

 

 

 

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Ruth Ware

 


 "Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise. At first, Lo's stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses  a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo's desperate attempts to convey that something has gone terribly wrong."

 

A murder mystery set on a yacht? Yes please. Ruth Ware is another modern day Agatha Christie, using confined settings to make her thrillers all the more terrifying.

 

When No One is Watching - Alyssa Cole

 


 

 

"Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

 

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

 

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?"

 

If you're also a fan of historical books, then a thriller interwoven with history sounds right up your street.

 

 

 

Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson

 


 

"Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story."

 

 Made up of a series of twists and turns throughout the book that'll keep you hooked until the very last page. Before I Go To Sleep will have you questioning the motives of those closest to you. The film adaptation is great too!

 

 

 

 

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

 


 

"When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.Assume nothing."

 

Told through dual perspective, this dark and twisty story of a not-so perfect marriage highlights that there's always two sides to every story.

 

 

 

 

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

 


 

"Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all--a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story. Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years."

 

 If you're a fan of books based on the premise that appearances can be deceiving, this one's for you.

 

 

 

 

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

 


 

"The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave."

 

A timeless classic, Rebecca serves to highlight the extent to which a paranoid mind can create the idea of a reality which doesn't exist. Du Maurier brings the gothic setting of Manderley to life with her stunning prose, intertwining the dark house with a host of strange characters that will set your heart racing.

 

 

 

Stillhouse Lake - Rachel Caine

 


 

"An average Midwestern housewife's life is changed forever when a car accident reveals that her husband is a serial killer. Retreating to the secluded Stillhouse Lake, she hopes to find peace from the Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband's crimes. But when a body turns up in the lake, it's clear that a new threat has found her."

 

This unusual twist on the story of a serial killer plunges you straight into the anguished life of Gwen Proctor, exciting from beginning to end.


Those are 21 of the best thrillers to add to your list for the winter months of 2021 - which ones will you be reading?

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